Noninvasive Assessment of Soil Microbial Activity

  • Technology Readiness Level: 2


Researchers at Purdue University have developed a new method to quantify activity and amounts of soil bacteria. This technique is more accurate and sensitive than traditional bacterial population sensing methods; only 0.1-1% of soil bacteria can be cultured in the laboratory. The Purdue researchers’ method uses electrical impedance monitoring to assess the bacteria’s rate of degradation of cellulose acetate, a biodegradable polymer. A decrease in the impedance measurement indicates degradation of cellulose acetate and an increase in the amount of bacteria. This non-invasive, real-time, in situ approach easily interfaces with wireless data acquisition modules to provide soil health information that the agricultural industry can use to forecast crop production and soil maintenance needs.

Technology Validation: The researchers tested the method with Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria, a bacterial species commonly found in soil.


  • Non-invasive
  • Real-time
  • In situ

Potential Applications

  • Soil monitoring

Contact Information

Name: Patrick W Finnerty


Phone: 765-269-4080